Fatigue in MS is a feeling of constant exhaustion, tiredness or weakness and can be physical, mental or a combination of both. It is distinct from and more debilitating than general feelings of sleepiness or physical tiredness.
Almost everyone who has MS also has fatigue; in fact, it is the most commonly reported symptom of MS. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), around 80% of those diagnosed with the condition will experience fatigue at some point during the course of the disease. However, the exact cause of MS-related fatigue remains unknown.
Researchers have started to identify a second kind of MS fatigue, called “lassitude,” which is unique to people with MS. There are a number of distinct characteristics associated specifically with lassitude that make it quite different from the baseline MS fatigue, such as:
- Onset: It can begin suddenly.
- Frequency: It often occurs every day.
- Time of day: It can occur in the morning, despite your having slept the night before.
- Progression: It commonly worsens throughout the day.
- Sensitivity to heat: Heat and humidity may aggravate it.
- Severity: It tends to be more severe than other types of fatigue.
- Effect on activities: It’s more likely than regular fatigue to disrupt your ability to perform everyday tasks.
Your GP, neurologist or MS nurse will be able to discuss many ways that are right for you to manage MS fatigue.
Our MS in a Minute videos were created to provide fast and factual definitions of commonly used terms in MS.